Lower Taieri wetland to be restored

The wetland area behind Otago Fish and Game Council operations manager Ian Hadland should be...
The wetland area behind Otago Fish and Game Council operations manager Ian Hadland should be mostly under water within in three years and, Fish and Game hopes, teeming with birdlife. Photo by Criag Baxter.
The Otago Fish and Game Council has unveiled plans to restore a large drained wetland off the lower Taieri River.

Operations manager Ian Hadland said today was World Wetlands Day and Fish and Game was taking the opportunity to announce plans to reflood the 80ha Takitakitoa Wetland near Henley, which is now a low-lying, rush-covered valley floor.

The council owned 75% of the area, which it hoped would be "hunt-ready" in three years' time, he said.

The other 25% of the area was privately owned by a Maori trust.

Fish and Game planned to develop an area of open water on its land, by installing a 400m-long, 1m-high bund about 400m from the Taieri River.

About 32ha would be covered in water about 50cm deep, creating an ideal "dabbling duck" habitat that would be a handy hunting area for novice or junior duck hunters.

While game birds were a focus, the project was also likely to create a habitat for a wide range of other species, such as whitebait, eels and wading birds, Mr Hadland said.

It was previously drained for farming, but had proved to be too low-lying for productive farming.

Water flows and levels were being monitored and Resource Management Act consent applications for the works were being drafted and were expected to be obtained by next winter.

Subject to funding, capital work, which would include the construction of the bund and maimai throughout the wetland area, should begin shortly after.

Funding for the development would come from licence-holder funds and/or the Gamebird Habitat Trust Fund, which got its income from the duck stamp on each gamebird hunting licence.

Mr Hadland said the Taieri project was an example of the sort of work Fish and Game was doing around New Zealand to create or restore wetlands, which have been fast disappearing with urban growth and intensified land use.

While it was involved in some large wetland projects, such as this one, Fish and Game also provided free help to farmers and landowners who wanted to create or enhance wetlands on their property.

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